Super League of Malawi (Sulom) has said discussions with TNM over the possibility of extending Super League sponsorship have reached an advanced stage and will be concluded by the end of October.
The local mobile phone service provider has sponsored the top flight league for over a decade and is widely expected to renew the deal.
Speaking during an Annual General Meeting in Lilongwe on Saturday, Sulom president Tiya Somba-Banda said there had been progress in the talks.
Somba-Banda said one of the issues that had been resolved in the deliberations was allowing clubs to have kit sponsors of their choice.
The current contract between Sulom and TNM restricts any competitor from sponsoring, advertising, promoting or displaying similar items associated with the sponsorship.
Somba-Banda said most of the issues that clubs asked Sulom to present to the sponsor were being addressed.
“The negotiations have been progressing well. They would have been concluded by now had it not been for the Covid-19 pandemic. We made a commitment with TNM that by the end of October, we should finalise negotiations because the current contract expires in December. We do not want to find ourselves failing to proceed beyond January because of the absence of a framework.
“Almost 90 percent of the issues which clubs asked us to put forward to TNM have been addressed. Among others, clubs are now free to find any kit sponsor or partner with any company on kits; so I would like to urge companies to come forward and be part of the game,” he said.
Since coming to the rescue of the league which had no sponsor then, TNM had exclusive rights as the official sponsor and the company still has its logo emblazoned on the front of team jerseys.
Be Forward Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets are some of the local teams that have kit sponsors and are likely to benefit from the TNM’s softening of heart.
TNM sponsors the league to the tune of K90 million per season and also provides two sets of uniforms to all 16 clubs as part of the deal.
However, the company has not effected any increase to the K15 million prize despite the rise in the cost of living.
This has resulted into an outcry from clubs who have argued that they spend more than K15 million to fulfil fixtures throughout the season.
Somba-Banda said it was premature to talk about increasing prize money as negotiations have not been concluded.
“Increase of prize money is one of the major issues during our talks. This is one of the matters that we have not concluded. We will come up with a statement once we finalise everything,” Somba-Banda added.
TNM Brands and Communications Manager, Limbani Nsapato, confirmed that the two parties were still talking.
“We have been talking and we are still talking. There is nothing more that I can say for now,” Nsapato said.
Civo Service United General Secretary, Ronald Chiwaula, said Sulom and TNM needed to be flexible on the kit sponsorship so that clubs generate more income.
“It is good for clubs to have kit sponsors. This is an opportunity for them to generate revenue by partnering other companies to provide them with high quality uniforms compared to what they get from Sulom,” Chiwaula said.
Sulom and TNM signed a three-year deal worth K90 million per season in 2017 and the two parties are racing against time as the contract expires in December.
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.